SEO, or search engine optimization, is kind of like a mythical beast. It’s often talked about, yet it is difficult to exactly define and or be made tangible.
Even for those who are directly involved in the industry, it is difficult to call anyone an ‘expert’ unless you were part of the team that wrote the algorithm at Google.
In a nut shell, to SEO effectively, you need to make sure everything aligns on a given page. From hyperlinks, content, backlinks, meta data, tags etc. all need to correlate. Whether it’s using the same keyword throughout a website or webpage, or making sure there are links to other relevant webpages, SEO is ultimately, all about consistency.
But what do you really need to know about SEO? What are the quick hit facts that will help you understand the seeming vague or indefinite term?
How often is the SEO algorithm updated?
According to Moz, an SEO consulting agency, Google is constantly tinkering with their algorithm, as is represented in this helpful, interactive chart you can see here.
According to Moz, there have already been about 10 updates to Google’s algorithm in 2014. While most are minor, there’s typically one larger, comprehensive update per year.
In 2013 it was named Penguin 3.0, and the most recent one, which occurred on May 19th, 2014 was named Panda 4.0.
How often should I SEO my website?
While this is a loaded question, and one no one really knows the answer to exactly, the conservative answer is “all the time.” Your website should be thought of as a fluid document, constantly changing based on your nonprofit’s needs and activities.
The safe thing to do is, as previously mentioned, define a distinct set of guidelines, and stick to them.
What are some things my nonprofit can do to start optimizing my website today?
Great question, and probably the one we’re asked more than any other. Here are a few ideas to get you started on the road to optimization.
Define your target audience
How can you create something that’s valuable to another person if you don’t know who you’re making it for? That’s like trying to buy a Christmas gift for someone you know nothing about.
For every webpage, decide who you want to see it. Whether it’s donors, volunteers, employees, or clients. Understand who you want to see that content, and what you want them to do with it, and go from there. Additionally, if you can’t define a target audience for any given webpage, chances are good it’s irrelevant or unimportant content.
Engagement is king
Posting a blog is great, but if you’re not engaging with itself, what makes you think anyone else will want to engage with it? Make sure you’re sharing your blog posts through social media, replying to comments on the individual blog posts (whether they’re positive or negative), and even replying to retweets or replys on Twitter.
Consistency, consistency, consistency
Consistency goes well beyond deciding whether or not you’re going to use AP formatting for your blog posts, or decide if you’re going to use Oxford commas or not. Make sure your website is conveying a consistent message, call to action messages, and even emitting a consistent personality.
This will resonate with a web viewer who may in turn be more inclined to spend more time on your site, interact with more links, which ultimately benefits your SEO.
Quality always matters
Posting a lot of content is great, but if no one is looking at it or interacting with it, it isn’t doing you any good. Make sure when you’re creating content it’s actionable, will resonate with an audience, and is working for your nonprofit’s SEO, not against it. Quality will in most situations trump quantity.
In fact, there are penalties that Google can bring against a site for having too much fluff content.
Ultimately, defining a target audience will enable you to create better content, get more people to engage with that content, which will help that page’s SEO ranking.